During the three years that I've been here I've made friends with a lot of the interns that come here every year. The first year I practically was one, and the second year I enjoyed my time as a 'professional intern' to the fullest. After that it started to get normal, though, and the novelty wore off. But most of the people I've met don't have that 'cooling-down' period, and they leave when they are at their peak. As a result they leave Japan with only good memories. I hereby declare that this feeling shall be known as 'The Intern Effect'. (tm)
I have never during all my time here heard an intern say that his experience here in Japan did not change his life. Everyone I know speaks fondly of their time here, and they always tell me that they learned something here. Not about the job, but about life. They find something here that they can't find anywhere else. Maybe it's the feeling of being 'free' in a strange country where everything is new and no one is there to help you. Maybe it's the experience of meeting so many people from so many different nationalities. It's always interesting to see what common ground people manage to find during their stay here.
What people don't understand is that this 'something' can only really exist for one year, or maybe two years maximum. It's the feeling of having zero responsibility and zero stress, while still having plenty of allowance to go around and do everything you like. Most people come to Japan and don't expect to save any money after the internship year, which means they spend it like crazy on going out and doing crazy trips to strange places. With a company that's not strict at all in enforcing the rules or giving deadlines this makes Japan, and in particular AK, an ideal place to be.
Reality can only be avoided for a limited period of time. After some time people start to realize that AK is in fact in a particularly strange corner of reality, where this carefree life seemingly goes on for ever and ever. Being so secluded from the harsh reality of the modern corporate society might sound beautiful, but it's an illusion that cannot last forever. After a while everybody will realize that for themselves and find a better place for themselves.
The connections that people make while in Japan last forever. It's an experience nobody will soon forget, and I hope that the kind of lifestyle that we were leading here will serve as an inspiration for people in the future, to try and realize something similar for themselves and for other people. I wouldn't say that this place has attracted the best of the best, but Japan provides that extra push for people to be better than they were before. It's that bit of international experience that enables people to view the world in a wider perspective than others can.
There are those of us who still remember the time we had in Japan, and the freedom we had, both during our work and during our free time. The world is a wonderful place to be if everything seems bright and new. And why shouldn't it? My generation will soon be occupying important positions on companies all over the world. Together we will create the environment for the next generation of interns, not just here in Japan but all over the world, and I can only hope that we can give them the same great experience that we enjoyed during our time here.
A beautiful life, in the safest country in the world, where lonely travelers always find someone to offer them food or a roof to stay under. Where there's always a train station nearby and every train line somehow leads you home. A time when the most crazy plans would just be done as if it was nothing, and everything always worked out somehow. That is the image I will always remember when I think about my time here in Japan.
Let's get to work, people. We can make this world better!